The recent establishment of an Internet exchange point (IXP) in T&T is a necessary step in strengthening the country’s local Internet economy. But it is not enough, says Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist with Packet Clearing House (PCH).
“The launch of the local internet exchange point, TTIX, is definitely a positive step for internet users and in the development of the Trinidad and Tobago internet economy. However, the launch of an IX is not enough to guarantee its success,” Wooding said, speaking with the T&T Guardian after taking part in a panel discussion on IXPs as part of the Internet Society’s (ISOC) INET TT Forum, hosted by the Telecommunications Authority (TATT) on October 8 and 9. Continue reading TTIX key to internet economy growth
Called TTIX, the local IXP brings together seven of the country’s Internet service providers (ISPs). Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT), Digicel, Massy Communications, Open Telecom, Greendot, Lisa Communications and Flow have signed on to the local exchange point. Continue reading T&T launches internet exchange point
Secondary school teachers and students will be immersed in a day of technology gadgets, spacemen and science experiments when the BrightPath TechLink program comes to T&T on September 27. “TechLink combines hands-on technology training with fun-filled creative activity, wrapped into a values-based learning experience that we believe can benefit participant for life,” BrightPath Foundation executive director Bevil Wooding told T&T Guardian. Continue reading BrightPath Foundation brings TechLink to T&T
Saint Lucia celebrated its 35th year of independence with a bold step toward improving the quality of Internet services for its citizens. On February 28, the island joined the growing list of Caribbean countries reaping the benefits of a local Internet Exchange Point, or IXP.
The Saint Lucia Internet exchange, called SLiX, was launched under the umbrella of a broader World Bank-funded Caribbean Communications Infrastructure Program (CARCIP), coordinated by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) and with support from Packet Clearing House (PCH). The IXP is a critical component of the overall project, which seeks to increase regionwide access to and uptake of broadband Internet service.
The CTU has been engaged to coordinate CARCIP, which is a partnership between the World Bank and the governments of Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. The programme aims, ultimately, to improve the efficiency of telecommunications infrastructure development and technology-driven service delivery throughout the wider Caribbean. Through the World Bank’s International Development Association, CARCIP was allocated a total disbursement of US$25 million, including loans to the three countries and a grant to the CTU to execute a number of regional ICT-related development projects.
The groundwork for the project was undertaken by the CTU, which has been advocating the need for proliferating Caribbean IXPs since 2006. The CTU’s aggressive public education activities on IXP principles and strategic partnership with Packet Clearing House (PCH), a globally recognised non-profit institution in the field of IXP implementation, have played a significant role in the establishment of every IXP in the region.
IXP key to Internet economy
Dr James Fletcher, Minister of the Public Service, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology, delivered the keynote at the SLiX launch.
“With the establishment of this critical component of Internet infrastructure within our own shores, Saint Lucia has taken a significant step away from dependence on foreign-based service providers,” Fletcher said.
As part of the larger goal to fully develop the domestic Internet economy, Fletcher’s ministry collaborated with PCH, which has been directly involved in setup of more than one-third of the world’s 300-plus exchange points.
Bevil Wooding, an Internet Strategist and Caribbean Outreach Manager for PCH described the launch of SLiX as “an important milestone for the country’s growing Internet economy”.
Wooding, who played an instrumental role in the process, explained that the establishment of a local IXP in St Lucia is expected to stimulate locally driven, Internet-based enterprise and innovation. SLiX will create a pathway for the emergence of a local crop of innovators and entrepreneurs to build applications, and launch new services that target local Internet users, he said.
“Look out for a new range of Internet based apps for education, broadcasting, health-care, business, government services and other areas, to take advantage of local Internet traffic exchange.”
Competitors working together
The launch of SLiX also means that, for the first time, Saint Lucia’s local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have agreed to exchange locally-destined Internet traffic between their respective networks without cost.
The arrangement, common in developed markets, is expected to improve the speed, reliability, security and resilience of the local Internet, said Wooding, who played an instrumental role in the process.
Geraldine Pitt, Chief Executive Officer of LIME St Lucia said her company was “delighted to collaborate with the Government of St. Lucia on the creation of an Internet Exchange Point (IXP).”
LIME, a major regional telecommunications provider, has committed to using its participating at the new IX “to enable local consumers to benefit from a faster experience for domestic online services”, she said.
Columbus St Lucia Country Manager, Jesse Edwards, underscored the sentiments expressed by his LIME counterpart, stating that Columbus, LIME and their respective customers stand to benefit from the launch of St Lucia IXP.
“Columbus is very committed to IXP development in the Caribbean. We actively support IXs and peering in all the markets we serve. The collaboration between LIME and Columbus to establish SLiX is strong testament to our ongoing willingness to work together in the interest of developing the St Lucian market and creating new opportunities for the wider Caribbean market,” Edwards said.
Christopher Roberts, local CARCIP coordinator, echoed the importance of competitors collaborating for the greater good.
“The establishment of the Saint Lucia IXP is a triumph not of technology, but of the spirit of cooperation between stakeholders in a highly competitive market,” he said.
“It speaks to what can be accomplished when individuals and corporations–and even fierce competitors–agree to collaboration in support of mutual interests and in the wider public interest.”
The CTU and PCH have headed the campaign to bring Internet service providers, governments and regulators to the table to improve regional Internet performance, traffic routing efficiency, resilience, and cost by keeping local traffic local.
“This new local IXP ensures that locally generated Internet traffic destined for customers on-island will now remain in-country, rather than having to go through lengthy, expensive, and sometimes insecure international routes,” said Wooding.
SLiX is the Caribbean’s seventh exchange point to be launched since 2009. Around the region, the launch of exchanges in the region has seen all-round improvement for service providers and Internet end users. Saint Lucia is now poised to reap similar benefits, Wooding said.
“With the declaration of Independence 35 years ago came the responsibility to build a nation. So too, with the establishment of SLiX comes the responsibility to now deliberately build the domestic Internet economy. By launching SLiX, St Lucia has taken a significant step toward charting its own digital destiny.”
A new initiative from BrightPath Foundation is taking a radical approach to Caribbean digital content creation. Called TechLink, the new project is already being described as a revolution in community-driven technology-driven education for the region.
On February 1, BrightPath Foundation, in collaboration with its corporate partner Columbus Communications, brought TechLink’s second mobile app development workshop to St George’s, Grenada.
Stephen Lee, technology trainer for the TechLink progam, said what the 20 college-age participants lacked in experience they made up for in enthusiasm.
“Most of the participants, I would say 75 per cent, had little or no prior app development experience. But many were actively pursuing an interest in mobile apps and saw the TechLink workshop as an opportunity to learn more and develop expertise,” he said.
The workshop syllabus included sessions covering the overall app development process, from idea to publishing, and a live walkthrough of Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone development environments. Lee also presented an overview of game development frameworks and did a walkthrough of online app builders: Appery.io and MIT App Inventor 2.
Participants of all levels were directed to online training resources and encouraged to keep developing skills and innovating. Kensuki Morris, a St. George’s University Student who attended, said, “This initiative is awesome. It encourages young people to empower themselves by taking advantage of what is available through broadband and skills. I will definitely attend future sessions.”
This programme focused specifically on youth from local communities. Fifteen participants were return attendees, who were joined by six new participants. They were exposed to a vast amount of information on the development, design, coding and production of mobile applications.
“The workshop is specifically designed to ensure that all participants, regardless of their entry-level, get a solid introduction to mobile app development and leave with a robust set of resources to start their mobile app development journey,” said Bevil Wooding, Founder of BrightPath Foundation.
At the regional launch of TechLink in Grenada on November 30, 2013, more than 100 young people and small business entrepreneurs participated in a full day of workshops. Many walked away energised with new ideas and ways that technology could be used to develop their communities, businesses as well as their career plans.
Gail Purcell, country manager for Columbus Communications Grenada, said, “Since its debut in Grenada, TechLink continues to attract audiences from all sectors–young people, parents, educators, and small and micro-business owners. At Columbus, we are proud to know that our company is associated with such a program that maintains our corporate social responsibility to all our customers, while truly affording our staff who support, and the participants who attend, such a rewarding experience.”
Grenada is just the beginning. BrightPath is already partnering with on-the-ground community leaders in St Lucia, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Montserrat, Wooding said.
“The goal is to see TechLink run in countries across the region from Belize to Suriname, targeting youth, parents, seniors, educators and small business owners,” he said.
The Caribbean region, known for the creativity of its people, will next week make a significant move to harness that innate innovativeness.Next week, the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) will hold the first in a series of workshops intended to highlight ways for people to creatively apply technology to solve problems in their everyday lives.
The technology innovation workshops, which start in St Lucia on February 10th and 11th, will also take place in Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines over the next two months. The workshops are part of the broader World Bank-funded Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (CARCIP), coordinated by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), which is based in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
CARCIP addresses gaps in submarine cable infrastructure and landing stations, domestic backbone networks and national Internet exchange points (IXPs). CARCIP was allocated a total disbursement of US$25 million, including loans to the three countries and a grant to the CTU.
Through CARCIP, the governments of the three countries have been working toward harmonising the development of their telecommunications infrastructure to maximise synergies and avoid inefficiencies.
CTU Project Coordinator Junior McIntyre described the scope of the overall CARCIP project as “comprehensive”.
“The ultimate aim of CARCIP is to improve the efficiency of telecommunications infrastructure development not just in St Lucia but across the whole Caribbean. So the lessons we are learning in St Lucia will benefit the entire region,” he said.
St Lucia to launch IXP
Shortly after the St Lucia workshop, the island is expected to launch its first IXP, on February 26th. An IXP is a component of critical telecommunications infrastructure that works to improve the efficiency of Internet traffic routing. Internet users can therefore benefit from higher speeds and greater affordability.
Last September, CARCIP and the CTU worked with Packet Clearing House (PCH), the world’s leading implementer of IXPs, to organise back-to-back two-day workshops with stakeholders in St Lucia and St Vincent to discuss implementation of local IXPs. The workshops included Internet service providers, local content providers, academics, business leaders and government officials, and focused on the role, value and requirements of a local IXP.